I know this might not seem correct to you, but stick with me for 10 minutes. Let me show you why weight issues aren’t about food or exercise.
The Duh Moment
Okay, so you hear me say that and you think “Duh! Of course most weight problems are because of taking in more calories than one gets rid of. It’s science.” And you are right. In most cases (obviously there are many factors, conditions, etc. to consider), taking in more calories than you burn will cause you to gain weight.
But this misses something critical to maintaining a healthy weight – the menu at Mellow Mushroom, lying scales, and robots.
A Crisis at Mellow Mushroom
When I’m in Chattanooga, Tennessee (which is fairly frequently), I like to head to Mellow Mushroom. It’s a pizza place with a slew of other options and a lot of pizzaz. What makes it especially nice is they cater to special dietary needs like mine (plant-based diet).
But often when I go there I struggle. I can have a pizza, or a sandwich, or a salad. Obviously, the salad has fewer calories, which would be the way I should go – especially since I have been a bit off of my ideal weight for awhile. Unfortunately there is something that often affects my decision negatively.
I keep track of a lot of daily stats to make sure I am on track for what I want to accomplish in life. One of those stats is my weight. One of the first things I do every morning is weigh myself.
I find it extremely demotivating when I eat well and exercise one day, and the next day I gain weight. It’s even more depressing when I do that for a week and see little if any progress. Or when I do that for a few weeks, have a bad day, and see all my progress wiped away because of that one day. Add to that pain, disappointment, stress, and other failures and it often seems like it’s completely pointless.
At that point, when I’m sitting in that restaurant, and looking at the menu and feeling a total sense of gray over my life, a gray salad makes life seem that much grayer. At least the pizza will add a little flavor to an otherwise disappointing month.
Now imagine on top of that someone hearing daily that they are ugly, worthless, stupid, gross, or worse. (That’s not me. I have a wonderfully supportive girlfriend.) Can you imagine hearing every day that you are just a fat f**k and then after weeks of trying, the scales seem to prove it? I actually have been in that exact situation before. I can tell you it’s difficult to find any motivation to try when it doesn’t seem that there is a reason to do so.
That’s not to say that everyone who struggles with their weight is in this situation. Not at all. But I do believe that when people struggle with something, whether it be weight, holding a job, relationships or other things, that it’s not as simple as we want to make it.
Again, this is not a blanket statement for those who find themselves in these circumstances for reasons outside their control. This is specific to those who struggle with things that are within their control, but success seems to evade them anyway.
Because we often get into the trap of thinking that other people are robots. We believe that it’s a simple process of doing a and b and getting c. Like some rat in a cage who pushes a lever and receives a food pellet, we see simple, straightforward causal relationships.
But we are not robots, and our situations are remarkably complex. There are switches and levers and past experiences that have tremendous effect on what we do and how we do it. We may know the right ways to behave in order to get what we want, but if we feel horrible when we do it, how much strength of will can we really have to accomplish it?
A Different View
That is why we need to look at this differently. Instead of judging someone who might be having difficulty with their weight, we must instead see a person who is struggling with something else. They probably already know what they need to do, but, for whatever reason, they struggle to find the motivation to make it happen.
Instead of saying “that person who is poor is a mooch; if they had self respect, they would work”, perhaps we need to think that there is something they are fighting against – perhaps past voices that told them they were a loser and would never amount to anything.
That’s assuming that they even have a say. So many people are in circumstances and situations not of their choosing that leave them struggling to reach a better life. Maybe we should simply work to believe the best in people, whether we know them or not, and figure out how we can help. (We need to find ways to give them lamb chops.)
You Are Worth It
To those of you who are struggling, I get it. I’ve struggled with my weight and still do. I’ve been in painful situations that were hard to remove myself from. I have dealt with pain, heartache, and some severely difficult struggles.
I still struggle. As much weight as I’ve lost, I’ve gained a few pounds and can’t seem to shake them. I eat junk when I know I shouldn’t. I fail often.
Yet I still keep getting up. I keep trying. I keep learning. I keep growing. No matter how small the steps, I keep moving forward. Why? Because the alternative is to give up. Even on days where I just beg for it to be over, I still tell myself – I may have lost today, but tomorrow is a new day.
Keep moving forward. You are worth it. Keep moving forward.